by Jennifer


Google Analytics

Changes to AdWords Tracking in Preparation for Safari Update

Last week, Google sent an email to AdWords advertisers outlining some changes being made to the way conversions are tracked on the Safari browser.

The changes were prompted in response to Apple’s upcoming Safari update, which includes the introduction of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) – a feature that aims to provide users with more control over their browsing privacy by limiting third-party ad trackers.

ITP will use machine learning to determine which domains can track users across sites. Domains falling into this category will only be able to use third-party cookies for 24 hours after a user visits the site via Safari. Between 24 hours and 30 days, the cookies will be partitioned – meaning they can’t be used in a third party context but they will ensure a user remains logged in to a site. The data and cookies will be purged completely for users that have not visited the site in the last 30 days.

Put simply, this means that advertisers will potentially lose the ability to attribute conversions from Safari unless the conversion takes place within 24 hours of a user leaving the advertiser’s website.

Enter Google!

If your AdWords account is linked up with Google Analytics and you have auto-tagging enabled, you won’t see any impact to AdWords conversion reporting as a result of these changes. This is because Google has developed a Google Analytics cookie that will store information about an ad click in a way that is compliant with ITP – namely because the cookie is set on the advertiser’s domain, making it a first-party cookie. The new _gac cookie will integrate with AdWords conversion tracking, making the data available for AdWords attribution and reporting purposes.

For advertisers who have not linked their accounts or have disabled the new cookie, Google will only be able to record conversions that occur within the first 24 hours of a site visit. In this case, statistical modelling will be used in AdWords reporting to estimate conversions that could not be measured from Safari.

Google outlines some next steps for advertisers to follow in preparation for the September changes:

  • For any advertisers deciding to opt-out, switch off the _gac cookie by updating your Google Analytics tag
  • Ensure you’re providing users with clear and comprehensive information about data collection and obtaining consent where legally required
  • Link your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts for better conversion measurement in AdWords

More information about ITP can be found here.


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